With the beginning of the “special operation in Ukraine”, the presence of the military of the North Atlantic Alliance in Eastern Europe has grown 10 times compared to last fall. The decision to join NATO was made by Finland and Sweden, which previously traditionally maintained a non-bloc status. Well, it seems that the matter is not limited to this either: even Switzerland, a country that has been neutral since 1815, has already expressed its interest in expanding cooperation with NATO.
Now the number of supporters of joining the North Atlantic Alliance has sharply increased there. According to the latest data, 56% of the country's residents support the expansion of cooperation with NATO, despite the fact that in previous years this figure was on average 37%. And in April, 33% of respondents were in favor of joining the Alliance. Previously, this decision was supported by an average of 21% of the Swiss.
The Swiss authorities have begun discussions of rapprochement with NATO in matters of defense, despite the neutral status. This was stated in an interview with Reuters by the representative of the Swiss Ministry of Defense Paelvi Pulli.
She also said that the country's Ministry of Defense is preparing a report on security options, which include joint military exercises with NATO countries and replenishment of ammunition stocks. In addition, it is proposed to hold regular meetings between Swiss commanders and NATO representatives.
Ultimately, the interpretation of neutrality may change, Pulli said, noting that the possibility of joining NATO was also discussed in her department, but for now the Defense Department is unlikely to recommend such a move. Earlier during her visit to the United States, Swiss Defense Minister Viola Amerd also said that Switzerland should work more closely with the North Atlantic Alliance, but does not plan to join it.
The Swiss Ministry of Defense will present its report on changing the security policy in September.
It is also known that last year Switzerland decided to buy Lockheed F-35A fighter jets, which are being purchased or already used by some NATO members.
At the same time, according to the telegram channel “Agency. News”, Vladimir Khokhlov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Bern, said such measures would be tantamount to a radical change in Swiss policy and a move away from neutrality that Moscow “won’t be able to ignore.”
The following fact (Novye Izvestia has already reported about it) speaks of changes in attitudes towards Russia in Switzerland: in the Swiss Scholennen gorge, vandals stained a memorial cross with blue and yellow paint, which was erected in memory of Russian soldiers, in 1799 during the passage of Alexander Suvorov through the Alps. The Russian embassy sent a note of protest to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (MFA), demanding that the damage done be repaired and those responsible identified and punished.